4 Reasons Why Your Plant Needs Visual Management

No one loves to put out fires. It’s no fun, it gets the blood pumping and puts your adrenaline in high gear.  But when there are preventable fires, you start wondering why they’re happening time and again.

And that’s what happens with most manufacturers of any size—they fix the problem with the fire after it happens. And they do so by either implementing a new procedure or “driving out” bad behaviors with disciplinary methods.

But what if there were a way to prevent most errors from ever happening in the first place? It sounds impossible, but it’s not. Some manufacturers have done just that by using visual management to reduce errors and improve performance.  Look at the following examples of visual management in action:

1. Preventive Maintenance

Many manufacturers perform preventative maintenance with a scheduled checklist, but this is not enough to catch all problems before they happen. Before one machine breaks down from lack of preventative maintenance, there are likely many other unexpected problems that occur because of poor lubrication or repairs that weren’t done correctly.

With visual management, the machine is marked with a “machine status” decal to show whether it’s operating within normal parameters or not. This can include color-coded stickers for different levels of warning. If the decal is green, the machine is “in good condition.” If it’s yellow or red, there are certain problems that need to be addressed by mechanics.

Now, maintenance managers don’t have to waste time trying to diagnose which parts of each machine are failing—they can see it immediately.  And they know exactly what needs to be done to get the machine into good condition again.

This approach has increased maintenance efficiency by 20%.

2. Employee Engagement

Many employees are frustrated when management tries to call out bad behavior without ever identifying what good behaviors should replace them. And they’re not wrong—it’s frustrating for everyone involved when no one is given a clear idea of what behavior is needed.

With visual management, the immediate good behavior that employees should replace bad behaviors with is displayed right above it to show employees exactly how they’re expected to act instead. This could include diagrams and pictures next to each other so that even if English isn’t an employee’s first language, they can still understand what’s expected of them.

This approach has increased employee engagement by 25%.

3. Certified vs. Non-Certified Work Areas

Not everyone knows how to work safely around dangerous equipment—and many employees are not certified on certain types of machines. With visual management, all non-certified work areas are marked with bright red “no access” signs to make it harder for employees to enter these areas and get hurt.

This approach has reduced accidents by 50%.

4. Safety vs. Quality Processes

Some manufacturers believe that if their procedures are good enough, they will always be safe and of high quality. Sadly, this isn’t the case—often, one or both suffer and it’s difficult to know which one is suffering most. With visual management, safety and quality processes are laid out side by side so that if one is weak, its deficiencies can be pinpointed and corrected.

This approach has strengthened safety procedures by 30% and quality procedures by 15%.

Simply using visual management in these ways has increased performance on each of these metrics—and it could do the same for your plant. So, if you’re looking for a way to keep employees and machines safe and increase performance, visual management just might be the solution you’ve been waiting for.